When I was 6, after consistent begging, I finally got the VHS tape of a fantasy-themed TV show all my friends kept raving about. Set in some unspecified pagan medieval kingdom, it detailed the deeds of a princess who fought alongside knights and constantly had to conceal her identity. She was taught the way of the sword by a gender-bending entity known as the White Knight/the White Witch.

Yet the story opened in a less fabled way: In a dingy castle, the queen was about to give birth to her third child, generally hoped to be a male heir. She ultimately gives birth to a girl (the very same protagonist of the series), thus, enraging the king. When we're introduced to the queen, she is sallow, with sunken eyes, chapped lips and matted hair, her pain too intense for a scream. Of course, she ends up dying.

"It was sepsis," my grandma told 6-year-old me. "Women would often die in childbirth."

I was not struck by the "infection" part of sepsis. I was too small to understand what that was beyond the yellowish substance oozing from a bad cut. What really horrified me was the pain the queen conveyed, to the point that soon after, I started quizzing everyone I knew who had given birth. Even at a young age, I